Politics

Thoughts on the 2008 Election on a Lazy Sunday Afternoon

I started this blog two years ago, in early 2005, in a fit of depression in the wake of the 2004 election.

So I find it ironic — and very interesting — that I’m writing a post today, just two years later, about the upcoming 2008 race. But that the race has started can’t be denied, and I have opinions and half-baked thoughts to share on this lazy sunday afternoon:

1. Hilary is doomed
I found Frank Rich’s piece today devastating. This excerpt in particular:

This is how she [Hillary] explains her vote to authorize the war: "I would never have expected any president, if we knew then what we know now, to come to ask for a vote. There would not have been a vote, and I would not have voted for it."

This sentence, just like Kerry’s "I was for it before I was against it" line, captures the fundamental, structural flaw of her campaign (and maybe her personality). Like Kerry, she failed to ask the hard questions and to make the tough and right decision in 2002. Because, I’m pretty sure, she thought it wasn’t the safe political play. Any confession now that this was a profound blunder and failure will just seem like further pandering.

2. Bloggers Asking for Blogger Candidates
I’ve now seen a couple of bloggers writing they aren’t satisfied with the current crop of candidates, and who say they want someone who feels "authentic" — someone who blogs. The notion that bloggers (and blogging — a platform perfectly suited for self-promotion and self-aggrandizement) provide more authenticity is totally hilarious.(Exhibit A: anyone else notice the proliferation of "look at me, I’m at Davos posts" this past week? Exhibit B here). 

I don’t give a damn if the candidate blogs, uses e-mail, goes online, or thinks YouTube is incredible. I want someone who shows the intelligence and courage and capacity to ask the right (and hard) questions. And who comes down on the right side of those hard questions more often than not.

3. The "Lack of Experience Meme"
Another early meme we’ve seen — from inside-the-beltway pundits and foreign policy poobahs — is that candidates like Obama "don’t have the necessary foreign policy experience" to serve as President. Here’s what a young State Senator from Illinois had to say about the imminent Iraq War in October 2002:

I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US
occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with
undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a
clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan
the flames of the middle east, and encourage the worst, rather than
best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of
Al Queda.

I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.

Coming a year after 9/11, this was not the safe political play it seems now. Compare and contrast this with the line above from the vastly more experienced and savvy Hilary Rodham Clinton. Who are you voting for?

4. "Anti-War" = "Far Left" — Let’s End This Nonsense
Last, I’m sick of reading analyses from political analysts (mainly blowdried and blowhard TV types on CNN & Fox) in Washington who repeat the Republican talking point that the "anti-war" members of the party are in the "Far Left Wing" of the party.

I’m firmly, totally against the war. I would not put myself in the Far Left wing of the party, far from it. Almost every sane person I know — conservative to liberal — is now against the war and realizes it was a huge and profound mistake, and that our number one mission is to figure out how not to let the mistake get compounded. When 70-80% of the country have come to the conclusion that the war was a mistake, it’s no longer a fringe position.

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